Out now on Shock.
This album is something of a guide to dreaming – it’s a guided tour through the dream world of Dan Kelly’s adopted hometown. Much like the Bedroom Philosopher’s latest offering, this is a quintessentially ‘Melbourne’ album – Dan purposefully and obviously drops geographical (and other) references in a somewhat postmodern manner, creating what is a psychological/personal map of the windy city in a distinctly Dan Kelly manner.
The same funny/strange storytelling in Bindi Irwin Apocalypse Jam infects the rest of this album too, from a song about Kelly’s fantasy of being a classical music DJ at Dandenong station to soothe rabid iced-up dudes, to the title track, which is a mystical, almost spoken word recount of a quiet tram ride (no hipsters thx) over a mesmerising bass riff.
Bindi Irwin Apocalypse Jam was, in my opinion, kind of underappreciated because it had a kooky name. People forget it’s a great song, too. At the middle of the album, here it shines, suddenly in context. It’s a wacked out fantasy that we’re in, and it’s what happens when you opt-in to Dan Kelly’s brain.
That’s how this record works, anyway – more than Kelly’s earlier work – by focusing on escapism and imagination. Every song is a story, at times funny, at times touching, at times believable, but always catchy and you’ll probably at some stage crack a smile. Noticeable, there are more pop culture references – from Harry Potter to American Apparel, Paul Simon, and of course that terrifying Irwin lizard child. It jars a bit at first, but then it works – a crossing of imagination and reality, verisimilitude – relevance, commentary and cleverness.
Hold On, I’m Coming On is, well, boppy. Kelly makes the most of his girly backup singers and employs a Belle & Sebastian-style bass line to drive it all. But, personally, I prefer I Was A Classical DJ at Dandenong Station (with the aforementioned rapid ice addicts) which has got to be the next single – it starts with a ridiculously catchy, simple riff, and goes into Dan Kelly’s typical sprawling never-ending-pop-song-climax-style build up, to pull back a bit for some call and response with his choir of back up singers. The Catholic Leader reaches the same kind of stuck-in-your-head catchiness, replete with cheering children who cheekily appear on other tracks too.
To top it all off, Kelly proves that he’s not all hot shiny pop and serves up Poisoned Estuary Jam and Grown Up Solutions which soften the pace and energy to a meditative comedown. This is the tired taxi ride home, and Kelly employs the cyclical rhythms and chords of ragas and post-rock to hush you right on back to sleep.
For some it might sound schizophrenic, but who said life was all verse-chorus-verse anyway? I much prefer Dan Kelly’s complex trips through the inner workings of his colourful mind, and when I’m wandering through Melbourne with this in my headphones, it’s like a psychedelic audio tour, and it rules.